Roundup: Lindstrom, Rhodes keep Stove simmering

Relief pitching was the theme of the day once again Thursday as the Hot Stove season rolled toward Christmas, with clubs making their lists, checking them twice, and not letting the impending holiday weekend interrupt the chance to improve their 2011 rosters.

The active Rockies continued their winter makeover, adding another hard-throwing right-hander to their bullpen mix by acquiring Matt Lindstrom in a swap with the Houston Astros for two Minor League pitchers.

Lindstrom, who turns 31 on Feb. 11, went 2-5 with a 4.39 ERA for the Astros last season, and Colorado had already tried to trade for him in November, when they swung a deal with Houston and landed righty Felipe Paulino for infielder Clint Barmes. Now Lindstrom will join Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle as manager Jim Tracy‘s primary right-handed setup men.

Meanwhile, the Rangers plucked a coveted left-handed bullpen specialist from the free-agent pool by signing Arthur Rhodes to a one-year deal. Rhodes, 41, had a 2.29 ERA for the Reds in 2010, earning the lone All-Star appearance of his 19-year career.

Also on the reliever front, the Nationals locked up one of their bullpen men, signing Sean Burnett to a two-year extension for $3.7 million, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson.

And that wasn’t all that simmered on the Stove on Thursday. Here’s the rest of the rumblings:

- Free agent outfielder Johnny Damon has been talking about a potential return to the Bronx, but it’s not likely in the cards, according to multiple media reports. The 37-year-old probably doesn’t fit with the Yanks because they only seem to have a part-time role available. Damon told the New York Daily News that multiple teams have expressed interest in him as an everyday player.

- The D-backs have officially sold utility man Rusty Ryal to Japan’s Yomiuri Giants. Ryal, who served as a backup last season for Arizona, was released earlier this month amidst rumors that he was headed to Japan next season.

- The Pirates continued their busy winter, signing infielder Garrett Atkins to a Minor League deal, claiming left-hander Aaron Thompson off waivers from the Nats and completing a minor trade with the Athletics. The Bucs acquired Minor League infielder Corey Wimberly in exchange for Minor League right-hander Ryan Kelly.

- According to SI.com, the Padres are considering signing free agent outfielder Brad Hawpe, who might slot nicely into a part-time first base role now that Adrian Gonzalez has moved on to Boston. Meanwhile, ESPN.com also reported that the Padres are thinking about signing Russell Branyan, a left-handed-hitting first baseman and former Padre.

- And speaking of Adrian Gonzalez, his name was in the news again Thursday, when the slugger told ESPNBoston.com that he promised the Red Sox that he would negotiate future contract extensions and not hold out for a monster free-agency deal on par with that of upcoming free agent Albert Pujols. “We just want market value,” was what he told Boston, according to the site.

Doug Miller

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